How Former Owner Jerry Buss Went Against Phil Jackson to Keep Kobe Bryant on Lakers

Published 11/04/2021, 11:30 AM EDT
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA APRIL 24, 2010–Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has a few words with Kobe Bryant in Game 4 of the Western Conference Playoffs in Oklahoma City. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Although Kobe Bryant had a monumental career with the Lakers, the road to glory wasn’t easy for him. First and foremost, the late legend wasn’t even meant to be playing for LA. In 1996, Kobe was in fact picked by the Charlotte Hornets, but traded out.

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Even after attaining some amount of success with the franchise, there were numerous occasions when the management questioned his fit in the side. Recently, owner Jeanie Buss spoke about how her father believed in the 18-time All-star in spite of all the white noise.

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The great Kobe made his debut for the Lakers in 1996. It was a quiet opener for him, but what came after this altered the NBA’s history books forever. He scored over 33,000 points for his franchise. Till the last day of his life, Kobe always remained loyal to his team, and was grateful for everything they gave him. Although there were some roadblocks along the way, Mamba accumulated 5 titles during his long stint in the league.

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Lakers owner Jeanie Buss on how her father backed Kobe Bryant over Shaq

One of the greats to have coached Kobe, was the ex-player, Phil Jackson. He brought out unthinkable versions of the guard-forward and earned the respect of Lakers buffs worldwide. However, the lesser-known fact is that Jackson had his doubts regarding Bryant’s spot on the roster. There were shaky moments when the coach doubted Kobe’s fit.

Speaking on the ‘Out of Office’ podcast, owner Jeanie Buss opened up on how her father and former owner Jerry Buss trusted Kobe in spite of the doubts that were cast on his future.

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She said“When my dad sat down with Phil at the end of that first five-year contract, my dad told Phil that he was going to trade Shaq. And Phil said, you can’t trade Shaq. Like he’s the most dominant player in the league. And my dad said, it won’t matter to you because you’re not coming back.”

“Basically, what difference does it make to you. I’m putting together the team that I want, and my dad saw in Kobe a return to show time, a return to that flashy thrilling type of basketball that he wanted. And my dad went all-in on Kobe.”

Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O’Neal, left, shares a laugh with Kobe Bryant on the bench during a pre–season game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim Thursday, October 23, 2003. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Thanks to the faith shown by Jerry and then Jeanie, Lakers fans had so much to cheer about. Regardless of the side’s current form, nobody can question the intentions of their sublime management.

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

462 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is an NBA and Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football and table tennis. Sankalp idolises Roger Federer and Stephen Curry, and has an inherent love for statistics.

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